Yay! You’ve been gifted a break from study or there’s a long weekend coming up (Canberra is currently blessed with 14 long weekends throughout the year). So, make the most of your few days of freedom by escaping to a new spot for a mini-break!
From city explorations to nature-filled jaunts, there’s nothing like a change of scenery to revive your mojo. Plus, how you travel (car, train, bus or plane) or snooze (hotel, Airbnb, hostel or campground) is up to you. Let the adventures begin with our top 4 weekend trips from Canberra.
OK, so where do we start? Our nearest neighbour is also a pretty (literally) generous when it comes to awesome things to see and do. But if you haven’t been there before, start with the city’s iconic structures, including the Sydney Opera House (take a Backstage Tour) and the Sydney Harbour Bridge (do the BridgeClimb).
For a history hit, head to the Rocks — it’s one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city and filled with beautiful Victorian architecture. For some arty ambience, visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, meet some new furry and feathered friends at Taronga Zoo, and then take a selfie at the entrance to the iconic Luna Park. And don't miss Bondi! One of Australia's most famous beaches, it offers oodles of the four S's - sun, surf, sand and sea and great fish and chips.
To maximise the harbour or city views, look for accommodation in Darling Harbour, Woolloomooloo, Potts Point, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst or Bondi and Coogee.
Maximise your mini-break: Catch a jet boat ride on Sydney Harbour. It won’t just be exhilarating; you’ll get to see some of Sydney’s most iconic sites from unexpected angles.
Sigh. How beautiful are mountain views? And for some of Australia’s best, take a mini-break to the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains. This area is known for its steep cliffs, waterfalls, eucalyptus forests and villages dotted with gardens, guesthouses and galleries.
Outdoor adventures abound here, from abseiling and rock climbing to horse riding and mountain biking (and more). The Blue Mountains also happen to house the world’s oldest caves — Jenolan Caves — a labyrinth of chasms that will take your breath away as you wander through them.
After being deep under the ground, you can soar high above it with a visit to Scenic World. Explore the temperate rainforest on the Scenic Walkway, then capture the oh-so-Insta-worthy views on the 545-metre Scenic Cableway, the steepest aerial cable car in the Southern Hemisphere.
Katoomba is the biggest town in these mountains, but it maintains its bohemian edge and offers budget-friendly accommodation and easy access to public transport.
Maximise your mini-break: Hike to Echo Point for one of the best views of the Three Sisters rock formation, which rises over 900 metres above the Jamison Valley.
Trees covering the Blue Mountains under a cloudy sky.
Closer to Canberra are the Snowy Mountains. They’re home to Mount Kosciuszko, which soars to a height of 2,228 metres above sea level and is the highest peak on the Australian mainland. During winter, this is a snowy-white wonderland where you’ll find the height (literally) of skiing and snowboarding adventures, amid the grandeur of spectacular mountain tops.
Perisher and Thredbo are your go-to alpine resorts. Perisher is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and Thredbo boasts Australia’s longest ski runs and a magical little village. So both are pretty impressive if you’re keen to get amongst the powder.
But the fun of these alps isn’t just contained to the winter season, with hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and horse riding all for the taking in the warmer months. Thredbo also has the only summer-long chairlift-accessed gravity trails in the country at Mountain Bike Park. That’s over 40 kilometres of adrenalin-fuelled fun!
Accommodation-wise (and as the old saying goes), the sky’s the limit. But if you’re on a budget, check out the backpacker hostels recommended by Tourism Snowy Mountains.
Maximise your mini-break: Get some illumination during the winter season with Perisher’s night skiing. Thredbo also flares up with its team of Supertrail skiers and snowboarders. Fireworks are free of charge. Yay
The stunning Sapphire Coast stretches around 90 kilometres from Bermagui in the north to Eden in the south. There is so much on offer here that you could spend countless days unearthing this sparkling coastal gem (here are some local Sapphire Coast icons for your next multi-day holiday). But given that you’ve only got a weekend, why not start at the top!
A three-and-a-half hour drive from Canberra, Bermagui’s adventure-laden itinerary includes swimming and surfing at Cuttagee Beach and the rainforest pockets and historic sites at Mimosa Rocks National Park. There's also spectacular Camel Rock with its walking tracks, panoramic ocean views, tranquil Wallaga Lake, a marine lover's wonderland for fishing, boating and snorkelling.
There are heaps of tours you can book, from sea kayaking and whale and seal watching to reef and deep sea fishing. And foodies can find plenty of hunger-busting haunts, from fresh seafood at the Bermagui Fishermen’s Wharf to pub grub at the Bermagui Beach Hotel
The Sapphire Coast’s overnight accommodation suits various budgets and tastes — motels, Airbnbs, hostels, and lakeside camping (or glamping if you want to spoil yourself).
Maximise your mini-break: Take a dip in the Blue Pool. This 50-metre-long, ocean-fed swimming hole is filled with marine life (so, pack your snorkel!).
An aerial shot of the ocean-fed rock pool known as the Blue Pool in Bermagui.